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preserving French, Provence
Tuna Confit with Green Beans and Shell Beans

Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Comments: 0


We make this “preserved” tuna in much the same way we would a duck confit, salting it ahead and stewing it slowly in flavorful oil. It is perfect for dishes like this simple provençal salad; it also makes a great pasta with the very same ingredients. We frequently embellish the salad with hard-cooked egg, a few cherry tomatoes, strips of roasted pepper, or rocket leaves, depending on what the season has to offer and the whims of the cooks.

Yield: Serves 6 as a first course


  • Salt
  • 1 pound tuna steak, cut 1½ inch thick
  • Thyme branches
  • Garlic cloves, crushed but not peeled
  • Fennel seeds
  • Dried chili pepper pods
  • Peppercorns
  • 3 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound (unshelled) fresh shell beans (preferably cranberry beans)
  • 1 pound green beans
  • 1 medium shallot, diced fine
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup Aïoli


Salt the tuna generously and put it in a deep bowl with the thyme, garlic, fennel seeds, chili pods, and peppercorns. Use your own intuition for amounts of these ingredients. Cover with 3 cups of olive oil and refrigerate for several hours, or preferably overnight.

To cook, transfer everything to a heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot and heat slowly over medium heat. When the oil is warm, lower the heat and continue cooking for 12 to 15 minutes, turning the fish over occasionally for even heating. Probe the tuna with a paring knife to check for doneness—it should still be slightly pink at the center. Remove the tuna from the oil and cool, reserving the oil. It is now ready to eat, or it can be refrigerated in the oil and stored for up to 5 days.

Remove the shell beans from their pods and simmer the beans in enough water to cover by 1 inch. Add a little salt, a thyme branch, and a splash of olive oil, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Let the beans cool in their cooking liquid. The shell beans can be cooked several hours in advance and kept at room temperature.

Top and tail the green beans and parboil in rapidly boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and spread on a baking sheet to cool.

Make a vinaigrette in a small bowl with the diced shallot, red wine vinegar, and ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk in ½ cup of the confit oil and add freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt and vinegar, if necessary.

Drain the shell beans and toss with the green beans in the vinaigrette. Arrange on a platter with the tuna, broken into pieces, over the top. Serve with aioli alongside, or thin the sauce with a little water and drizzle it over everything.

© 1999 Alice L. Waters

Note from Cookstr's Editors

Nutritional information includes 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving, but does not include Aioli. For nutritional information on Aioli, please follow the link above.


Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

584kcal (29%)
130mg (13%)
9mg (16%)
523mcg RAE (17%)
29mg (10%)
330mg (14%)
4g (22%)
27g (42%)
5mg (30%)

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